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Home > Jan's CompLit 101 > Working with Presentations > Format > Templates & Themes > Modify Master
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Jan's Working with Presentations

   Format: Templates & Themes:
   Modify Master

Thumbnails of Master Slide and the layouts that go with itThe Master for your presentation is not locked in stone. You can make changes to it that will automatically be applied to everything that uses that master. This means masters for slides, handouts, and notes pages, too. This is very powerful! You can also apply more than one Master for your slides.

You can edit the Master Slide (the first one in the list) or just an individual layout that goes with that Master Slide. You can create your own layouts, too.

If your presentation uses more than one Master, the additional Master Slides will appear in the order in which they were applied. The layouts for each master will be directly below the master. Sometimes that creates a LOT of scrolling.

Master: What You Can Change

  • Background - picture, color
  • Fonts - font, size, style, color
  • Placeholder - type, size, border, position
  • Motion - transitions, animations
  • Add text boxes that will show on all slides using that master or layout, like company name and logo

Master Layout for Placeholders

Dialog: Master Layout - all checked (PowerPoint 2013)The Master Slide shows the default locations for placeholders for a standard slide with title and tex when you choose to display them. You can still move these around or delete them on individual layouts or even on slides themselves.

The Master Layout dialog shows a check mark for the default placeholders that are already included on the current Master Slide. Check the boxes for the ones you want to show all or most of the time. In PowerPoint 2013 and 2016 you can uncheck previously checked boxes but not in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010.

Button: Master Layout (PowerPoint 2010)The Master Layout button on the Master View ribbon tab opens the dialog. The button is active for the top level Master Slide, but not for the layouts based on that master. 

IconL: PowerPoint 2007 Icon: PowerPoint 2010 PowerPoint 2007, 2010:
Dialog: Master Layout (PowerPoint 2010)Icon: ConfusionPoint of Confusion: Cannot uncheck boxes in Master Layout dialog.

To remove a placeholder from the Master Slide in these versions, you must select it on the Master Slide and delete it. The next time you open the Master Layout, the box will be unchecked for the placeholder you deleted.

You can delete any of the default placeholders from individual slides if you wish.  That will not affect the Master Slide at all.

Default Placeholders:

  • Title
  • Text
  • Date/time
  • Slide number
  • Footer (which will contain the text you type in)
Master slide placeholders - Post Mortem

Master Slide from Post-Mortem template

Master slide - Equity - placeholders labeled

Master Slide from Equity theme
Placeholders are in different spots.

Icon: ConfusionPoint of Confusion: Header/Footer Items

Dialog: Header and Footer > Slide tab (PowerPoint 2013)For the placeholders for Date/Time, Slide number, or Footer to actually show on the slides two things must happen:

  • Placeholders must be included in the layout for the slide in Slide Master view.
  • You must use the Insert Header/Footer dialog from the Insert ribbon tab to select and configure the placeholders on the Slide tab.

    Icon: Warning Dialog choices not actually used: In the Header and Footer dialog, the placeholder choices appear to be available even when they do not exist on the layout. No warning or explanation will appear to explain why your choices did not show up!

Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Modify Masters

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn: to modify a Slide Master:
to remove and restore placeholders on Slide Master
to format a placeholder with ribbon and with dialog
to copy placeholder formatting with Format Painter
to format text size for a placeholder

Start with:  Icon: Class flash driveAnniversaryTripsOffer2-Lastname-Firstname.pptx from the previous lesson

Master: Change Fonts

In the last lesson you applied a pre-designed Fonts theme. This time you will manually change the fonts in the Slide Master. This will automatically change all of the slides that use that master. Very slick feature!

  1. If necessary, open Anniversary Trips Offer2-Lastname-Firstname.pptx from your Class disk.
  2. Icon: Class flash driveSave As, with the name  AnniversaryTripsOffer3-Lastname-Firstname.pptx  as a new file on your Class disk in the folder powerpoint project2.

  3. Two sets of slide masters (PowerPoint 2010)On the View ribbon tab, open the Slide Master view.
    At the left are thumbnails for two sets of slide masters  - the original project post-mortem plus the Equity or Banded masters used on the Title slides.
  4. Scroll up and down to see all of the thumbnails.
  5. New Title Master (PowerPoint 2013) New Title Master (PowerPoint 2010)Hover over the second thumbnail in the second set of masters.
    A screen tip shows that this is the master used on your title slides.
  6. Click on this master to select it.
  7. Click the border of the Title placeholder in the right pane to select it.
  8. Button: Font > Broadway (PowerPont 2010)On the Home ribbon tab, change the font to Broadway BT.

    Icon: TroubleProblem: Broadway BT font is not in list
    Solution: Choose a font with a wide stroke, like Broadway, Britannic Bold, or Cooper Black.

  9. Slide Master for Title slides with fonts changed directly on the master (PowerPoint 2013)Slide Master for Title slides with fonts changed directly on the masterSimilarly, change the font for the Subtitle placeholder to Broadway.
    If that font is not available, use what you used in the previous step.
  10. Icon: Class flash driveSave.

Master: Bullets

You are not stuck with the choices of bullets for the different bullet levels in the template. You can change any of them to any symbol or picture that you have access to. So many choices!

  1. Master Slide for original bullet lists (PowerPoint 2010)Click in the Slide Master at the top of the list, which is used by the slides besides #1, 6, and 11.

  2. Right Click Menu: Bullets > dash (PowerPoint 2010)Right click on the second level of bullets, which has a dash as its bullet shape.
    A context menu appears.
  3. Select Bullets
    A palette of standard and recently used bullets appears.
  4. Click on Bullets and Numbering... at the bottom of the palette.
    The Bullets and Numbering dialog opens. 
  5. Dialog: Bullets and Numbering > original dash bullet (PowerPoint 2010)If necessary, click on the tab Bulleted.
  6. Dialog: Symbol - Garamond - dash (PowerPoint 2010)Click on Button: Customize (PowerPoint 2010) the Customize button at the bottom right of the dialog.
    The Symbol dialog appears. It shows the font for the current bullet symbol is Garamond. That was the original font for body text in the template.

  7. Dialog: Symbol - Font control with Wingdings selectedScroll the Font list and select Wingdings.
    This font is installed with Windows.
    The characters in this font appear in the dialog.

    Icon: Trouble Problem: Icon: PowerPoint 2016 No fonts are listed
    Dialog: Symbol - no fonts listed (PowerPoint 2016)
    [March 2016] In PowerPoint 2016 the Customize Bullets process currently fails to show any of the installed fonts in the Symbol dialog.

    Dialog: Symbol - recently used symbols (PowerPoint 2016)Workaround: Until this issue is fixed... Close the Symbol dialog. On a layout or slide, switch to the Insert ribbon tab. Click on the Symbol button. Change the font to Wingdings. Select the square symbol as in the step below. Click on OK. Delete the symbol from the slide or layout. Repeat the steps above to open the Bullets and Numbering dialog and then Customize. The symbol you want (square with curved sides) shows in the 'Recently used symbols row'. Click on it and then on OK.

  8. Dialog: Symbol > Wingdings - bent square (PowerPoint 2010)Scroll  the display of characters and select the square with curved sides.
    Icon: TroubleProblem: Can't find the symbol
    Your dialog may be smaller or larger so that the symbol appears in a different row and column.
    Solution: Be sure that the font is Wingdings. Scroll and look carefully. The symbol is close to the bottom of the chart near the various star shapes.
  9. Master with new bullet shape appliedClick on OK to close the Symbols dialog and on OK again to close the Customize dialog.
    Your new symbol is now what you will see for all second level bulleted text on all slides that use this first set of masters. So cool!
  10. Icon: Class flash drive Save.

Master: Remove Placeholders

  1. Master Slide for original bullet lists (PowerPoint 2010)If necessary, open the Slide Master ribbon tab again from the View ribbon tab.
  2. Select the Slide Master at the top of the thumbnails.  
  3. Click in the Date/Time placeholder at the bottom left of the Master and press the DELETE key. The placeholder vanishes. So simple!

  4. Repeat for the Footer and Slide Number placeholders.

    Slide Master Placeholders - Date selectedSlide Master after deleting placeholders for Date/Time, Footer, and Slide Number

  5. Icon: Class flash drive Save.

Master: Restore and Show Placeholder

Let's change our minds and return the Footer, but this time you will put some text into it. Once a placeholder has been deleted, you can get it back from the Master Layout dialog. The question then becomes how to make it show up on the slides. It is not as easy as you might expect.

  1. Dialog: Master Layout - date, slide number, footer = unchecked (PowerPoint 2010)From the Slide Master ribbon tab, click on  Master Layout Button: Master Layout (PowerPoint 2010).
    The Master Layout dialog appears. The gray boxes are already being displayed.

    Icon: TroubleProblem: The Master Layout button is unavailable.
    You do not have the Slide Master at the top selected.
    Solution: Click on the first thumbnail in the Navigation pane while in Slide Master View. 

  2. Footer changed after deletion and inserting againClick in the check box for Footer and click on OK.
    The footer placeholder reappears but its formatting changed to white. Unexpected. Apparently, this has to do with the original formatting when the template was created.
  3. Footer text formattedClick in the Footer area and type PowerPoint Formatting -  and then type your name.
    The text may wrap since the placeholder is not wide enough unless your name is short like mine!
  4. If the text wrapped, resize the text box so that text does not wrap.
  5. Select the Footer placeholder.
  6. Button: Font - Dark Blue from Theme Colors (PowerPoint 2010)Switch to the Home ribbon tab and change the font color to Dark Blue, Background 2.
  7. Footer text formatted

    Scroll the layouts in the right pane for this master.
    (Thumbnails do not update until you leave Slide Master view and return to that view!)

    None of the layouts are showing your new footer text but the color did change. Unexpected!

    You must 'insert' the footer as well as set it up in the Slide Master to have it show up on a slide.

  8. Dialog: Header & Footer - new Footer checked (PowerPoint 2010) While the layout is still selected, switch to the Insert ribbon tab and click on Insert Header & Footer Button: Insert Header & Footer.
    The dialog Header and Footer appears.
  9. If necessary, click on the Slide tab.
    The Footer on this tab shows your new text, but it is not checked yet!
  10. Click on the Footer box to check it and then click on Apply.
  11. Scroll the master layouts in the right pane.
    None of the layouts show the new footer text. Not fun!
  12. Open the Header & Footer dialog again.  
  13. Layout with new footer textWith the Footer box checked, click on Apply to All.
  14. Scroll the layouts again.
    Finally, they all show the new footer text for both sets of layouts. The formatting (font color) changed for layouts using the first Slide Master but the color did not change for the layouts based on the second Slide Master.
    (The thumbnails do not update automatically yet.)
  15. On the Views bar, click on Normal view Button: Normal view (PowerPoint 2010).
    The Slide Master tab vanishes and your window returns to Normal view.
  16. Scroll through your slides.
    Now they all are showing your footer, including the Title slides that use a different Master! But those Title slides do not use the new font color.
  17. Icon: Class flash drive Save.

Icon: ConfusionPoint of Confusion: Inheritance from Slide Master
Clearly things are not clear about these placeholders on the Slide Master!

  • Your changes for formatting carry over to the different layouts for a Slide Master automatically.
  • Use Apply to All to get the contents of the Footer placeholder put on every layout, including other Slide Masters.
  • If you don't want all layouts to use your changes, select the layouts you want first and then use Apply instead of Apply to All. 

Master: Format Placeholder with Ribbon

Placeholders are a special type of text box, so they can be formatted with fill color, lines, and effects like shadow and bevel. Their length and width can be changed, too. You can change characteristics from the ribbon or from the Format Shape dialog or pane.

  1. Return to Slide Master view.
  2. Button: Shape Fill > Aqua, Accent 3, Darker 25% (PowerPoint 2010)Select the Footer placeholder on the first Slide Master, which uses the Post-Mortem template.
  3. Switch to the Drawing Tools: Format ribbon tab.

  4. Footer placeholder with new Aqua colorOpen the Shape Fill palette and choose the Aqua, Accent 3, Darker 25%.
    The background color of the Footer placeholder changes color.

  5. Button: Shape Outline > White (PowerPoint 2010)On the Drawing Tools: Format ribbon tab, open the Shape Outlinepalette and select White.
    The border of the placeholder changes color.

  6. Footer placeholder with White border Click off the placeholder to see the whole border.
  7. Button: Shape Outline > Weight > 2 1/4 pt. (PowerPoint 2010)On the Drawing Tools: Format ribbon tab,  click the Shape Outline arrow again.

  8. Footer placeholder border gets wider. Hover over Weight to open the list and click on 2 ¼ pt.
    The border gets wider.
  9. Icon: Class flash drive Save.

Master: Format Placeholder with Dialog

  1. Right Click Menu: Format Shape (PowerPoint 2010)Right click on the Footer placeholder and choose  Format Shape  from the context menu.

    Dialog: Format Shape > Fill (PowerPoint 2010)The Format Shape dialog or pane appears with a number of pages and choices. Some of these settings you could also do from the ribbon or manually. 

  2. Dialog: Format Shape > Size > Width = 200% (PowerPoint 2010)Click on the Size page.
  3. With the Lock aspect ratio box not checked, change the width only to 200%.
    Live Preview shows the change. (You may need to move the dialog to see.)

    The placeholder stretches out to the right, but is no longer centered. There is no automatic way to center a text box on the slide!

    Lock aspect ratio means to change the length and width by the same percentage so that the proportions of the object do not change. 

  4. Footer placeholder enlarged in width. Did not center automatically on the slide.Click on OK to close the dialog and apply the change.
  5. Footer placeholder dragged to about the center of the slide.Drag the placeholder back to the left until it seems centered again.
    Is it easy to get the wide placeholder centered this way?

  6. Icon: Class flash drive Save.

    Ruler shows position of mouse. (PowerPoint 2010)Tip How to check centering of a placeholder with ruler
    When the ruler is showing at the top [View ribbon tab > check box for Ruler], a dotted line on the ruler shows where the mouse is.

    Pointer over top center resizing handle changes to double arrow.Position your object and then put your mouse pointer over the top center handle of the selected object. Look at the ruler to see if the dotted line on the ruler is near the zero. Unfortunately you cannot drag the object while the mouse is over a handle. It resizes the object instead.

  7. Icon: PowerPoint 2013 Icon: PowerPoint 2016 PowerPoint 2013, 2016: On the Drawing Tools: Format tab, click the Align button to open the list of choices. Click on Align Center.
    The placeholder jumps to center itself on the slide.

    Tip How to check alignment of a placeholder with guides
    Footer placeholder dragged to the center of the slide. Alignment guide appears. (PowerPoint 2013)A dashed red alignment guide line appears over the slide when the center of the placeholder that you are dragging is aligned with the center of another object, like the title placeholder or the text placeholder.

    Spacing guides show as dashed red lines with arrows on both ends. These appear when three or more objects are equally spaced. In this lesson the space is too small to show more than a red line.

    These guides are new and can be quite helpful. But they do NOT tell you if an object is centered on the slide. Use the ruler if the alignment guides are not helpful.

Format Painter: Placeholder

Format Painter can copy formatting from one text box or placeholder to another. A great time-saver when you need to do the same formatting on different slides or masters!

  1. Footer selected - solid border Select the Footer placeholder on your Slide Master.
    (The border should show as solid.)
  2. On the Home ribbon tab, click Button: Format Painter (PowerPoint 2010) Button: Format Painter (PowerPoint 2013) the Format Painter button.
    The mouse pointer changes to Pointer: Format Painter the Format Painter shape while the pointer is over the slide but shows the normal arrow pointer when over the Navigation pane.
  3. Second Slide Master - mouse pointer in Format Painter shapeScroll the Navigation pane down and click on the second Slide Master - based on the Equity or Banded template.
    Second Slide Master - mouse pointer in Format Painter shapeThis master puts the placeholders across the bottom like the first master but has different formatting and placement.

  4. Second Slide Master with formatting copied onto Footer placeholder - new colorsClick on the Footer placeholder.
    The placeholder formatting is applied.

    Second Slide Master with formatting copied onto Footer placeholder - new colors (PowerPoint 2013)But wait! The colors are different than in the first slide master!

    You originally picked colors from the template's theme colors. Format Painter applied the matching colors from the theme colors for the current slide master, Accent 3, Darker 25% and Background 2. It does make sense!

    It is still a bit of a surprise that the shape size did not get copied.

  5. Close the Slide Master View.
  6. Run the slide show using the Slide Show button Button: Slide Show (PowerPoint 2010) Button: Slide Show (PowerPoint 2013) in the Views bar.

    Icon: QuestionEvaluate: Does this new background color for the Footer placeholder blend well with the title slides and the other slides? Do the fonts and font sizes work well? How does the new bullet shape do? Do you like the footer? Is it in the best position? Is it annoying? What would you change about this presentation to improve it? You should have several suggestions!

  7. Icon: Class flash drive Save.

Final Edits on Slide Master

I think we can all agree that this presentation still needs work.

  • The footer is unattractive! Let's hide it.
  • Font sizes for the bullet points are still small. Let's enlarge them.
  1. On the Insert ribbon tab, click on Header and Footer Button: Header & Footer (PowerPoint 2010).
  2. Uncheck the box for the Footer and then click Apply to all.

    Now the footer will not show on the slides, but it is still part of the Master.

  3. Switch to Slide Master view and select the first Slide Master in the Navigation pane.
    This is from the Project Post-Mortem template.
  4. Click on the border of the Text placeholder to select it.
    (It has the bullet points.)
  5. Switch to the Home ribbon tab and click on the button Increase Font Size once.
  6. Close the Slide Master view.
  7. Scroll to view all of the slides.
    Icon: QuestionEvaluate: Is this font size big enough? Is it too big for some slides?
    Do you like the bullets?
    What changes would you recommend?
  8. Icon: Class flash drive Save.